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It’s time to prescribe physical activity for asthma

Published online: September 1, 2021

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects millions of individuals worldwide. Despite effective medications to treat asthma, the majority of patients with asthma remain uncontrolled. It is well-recognized that lifestyle changes, including physical activity, can improve outcomes for other chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes. While physical activity is not a new “treatment”, attention to its’ role in asthma management is growing. A systematic review published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice investigates the impact of physical activity on asthma outcomes in adults with asthma.

Kuder et al systematically searched 7 databases and found over 10,000 articles. Thirty-five articles from 20 studies met criteria to be included (randomized controlled study investigating the role of physical activity on asthma outcomes in adults). The physical activity interventions varied significantly, ranging from supervised exercise in a gym to unsupervised walking. Measured asthma outcomes also varied across studies, including quality of life, asthma control, markers of inflammation in the blood, and more. The results varied, but the majority of studies found an improvement in asthma outcomes (asthma control, quality of life, lung function parameters and inflammatory markers) with increased physical activity. No studies reported worsening asthma outcomes.

Physical activity is safe and has a positive impact on asthma outcomes, and should be recommended to adults with asthma in conjunction with appropriate medications. Further research is needed to fully understand how much and what type of exercise is needed to reach the best asthma improvements.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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